Shining bright lights on backroom deals in the NYC body politic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Robert Dryfoos

Council Member Treasonnaire?

Ohhhh ... you've gotta love NYC politics. Because if nothing else, it's certainly long on memory.

Just the other day we were reminded that no blog analyzing the Speaker's race would be complete without recounting the Dryfoos affair. But here's the scoop: we weren't there.

However, others were. And what we managed to learn from them - our resident historians - and from the history books is that in politics, a vote is not a vote until it's a vote. Hence the excitement that surrounds the jockeying for Speaker.

And to nail this point home, here's an excerpt of what Douglas Kellner, Manhattan Borough Commissioner at the Board of Elections, recently had to say:

I am one of those who believes that New York's own l'Affaire Dryfoos was the lowest act of political treachery that I ever observed, —and that's saying a great deal.

In 1986, in my capacity as the Manhattan Democratic Party Law Chair, I was responsible for representing the Manhattan council members in arranging the coalition with the Brooklyn caucus, represented by Ken Fisher, who was then Brooklyn Law Chair. The Manhattan caucus was quite diligent about securing agreement to the details of their reform agenda, as well as amendments to the Council Rules, without running afoul of the technical requirements of the New York Public Officers Law that makes it illegal for an elected official to promise to vote for one matter in return for a promise by a colleague to vote a particular way on another matter. (Yes, vote trading is illegal in New York!)

I participated in many long meetings that lasted well past midnight where the members of the Manhattan delegation scoped out a quite thorough list of the reforms they insisted that would have to be adopted in return for their support of Brooklyn's Sam Horwitz for Vice Chair and Majority Leader, the old title before it was changed to the more potent "speaker" in 1989. Dryfoos participated fully in these meetings, often goading the junior members to demand more significant committee chairmanships, but always feigning complete commitment to package. It turned out that Stanley Friedmain's telephone logs, which became public when they were introduced as evidence at his corruption trial, revealed that Dryfoos was secretly telephoning him immediately at the conclusion of each of these meetings, sometimes at 2 and 3 a.m.

Click here to read further!


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